How much plastic do we produce?

Plastic kills. Though, knowing something but not acting means the knowing is worthless. Why do we still use plastic in our daily lives? Because it is unavoidable? Perhaps. Look around you, how many of those products is made out of plastic? Here I can see my phone, this computer, the mouse, the printer, speakers, lens-care, cd-cases, a plastic bag, a bike-light and some more plastic cases for one thing or another. Most of these things don't get thrown away (yet), but once it is thrown away, what happens to it? And what can we do about it, here in the house?

In the Netherlands plastic recycling has only recently started. A new campaign and special recycling boxes are there to make people recycle plastic but even if we would start recycling, not all plastic can be recycled - by far. And Amsterdam is not yet part of the campaign unfortunately. And lastly, we are not even talking about the vast amounts of energy used to produce plastic, some of the chemicals inside the plastic and oil-dependency. In my view, therefore the only answer, really, is to stop using plastic - period.

So this is what I have known since I was a kid and I always tried to use as little plastic as possible. But this is getting harder and harder as the economy is depending more and more on plastic. Today for example this also means stop going to Supermarkets, since all supermarket products are wrapped in plastic, even vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy and all kinds of other products that before were never wrapped in plastic.

Though, the pain of plastic is much more that I had always thought. Somehow you really have to be confronted with the facts before you really realize what damage you bring upon life on this planet. So this is what just happened when I found out that much of our plastic actually ends up in the oceans and there is little we can do to clean it up. Even if we stopped using plastic tomorrow its residue will remain for thousands of years. Most of what is there now will eventually sink to the ocean floor where it will seriously disrupt benthic ecosystems.

In the future, the twentieth century will be clearly visible in the geologic record by an indelible layer of plastic, as if a vast rain of synthetic meteorites had crashed to the earth. All we can do is to stop producing more of the stuff. We cannot quit the habit overnight, but slowly (?) we must wean ourselves off this invidiously convenient drug.

There is also a map that explains you how plastic actually travels over the Pacific Ocean and how it clutters to form big plastic soups, ending up in ever smaller pieces of plastic on the Ocean's surface and straight into the stomachs of birds and fish, and eventually also in our own food-chain. For more information, check this search or see some video's.

Most of the plastic produced in the house does not end up in this ocean. However, none of the plastic in the house is being recycled at the moment. To start reducing the amount of plastic in the house, it might be a good idea to start collecting it anyway, just to make people aware of how much plastic even a low-carbon consumptive household like this one produces (dumpster diving, green energy, hitchhiking, etc.) and maybe we can do something nice with all that plastic... Only issue might be the lack of space... but let's see.


valentina's picture

I wouldn't burn plastic!

I wouldn't burn plastic. I can produce dioxins (in Italy we had massive issues with rubbish in Napoli a couple of years ago. People, desperate to walk around mountains of food waste started to burn everything with high risk for their health).

Anyway, look at this article about burning plastic, it's also an interesting blog about ecology:

guaka's picture

As a kid I used to burn

As a kid I used to burn plastic. It adds some nice spacy colorful flames to the whole experience! And it smells funky too!

atopia's picture

Pocket Revolution

Thanks for bringing this up. I just realized I should get a (non-plastic) shopping bag, e.g. for getting rolls in the morning.

dcarpano's picture

Biodegradable plastis can be

Biodegradable plastis can be made out of hemp. Grow hemp, Robin.

valentina's picture


I'm agree. Grow hemp and recycle what you cannot use for making bags (like flowers? just a suggestion).
happy hemping para todos

rene's picture

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A new continent made of garbage in formation...